Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Revenge of Durga

Tiger, tiger, burning bright,
In the forest of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

I must confess to a life-long fascination of the tiger. Silent, brooding, awe-inspiring, and majestic, a tiger is poetry in action.But not so i guess, to the vermin who hunt him down.For causes as ridiculous as invigorating tired cojones,to curing every conceivable malady which could have been averted with some regular exercise,the tiger is fair game.

No where is this more relevant as in India,where more than 50 % of the tigers reside.Wimpistan would be a better word to name this country, given the pathetic efforts we seem to be making on this issue.Sanctuaries are left poorly staffed, gaurds are saddled with vintage equipment,and corrupt officials look the other way. And depressing news trickles in of bones and skins being found ,again and again.

But nothing hurts the tiger more than public apathy. Public reaction is non-existent.Those who can raise their voice do so when it comes to debating the next President,corruption in public life and gender issues. What action actually comes out of all that talk ? As one of my favorite professors would remark - "More heat, less light !"

Should we debate the tiger's fate or talk about the next President ? Well, we need to do both. However, if you wanted a rational explanation to the former, a tiger is clearly worth far more alive to the economy than if he is dead. Think of the money that can be earned on safari tours to watch the tiger! Not to mention jobs that are created in setting up infrastructure,and maintenance. Tourism which should be a money spinner in India has not recieved the attention it deserves. The "tiger trail" could change all that. This fact can be hammered home only if the people at the frontline - the villagers, the guards and the officials who oversee this are empowered and motivated by all of us. If the tiger is really the national animal that we proudly proclaim it to be , clearly it deserves a much better treatment. Is it that monkeys and elephants are revered in Indian society only because they can be "domesticated" in a temple and the proud tiger can never be so ? And at a basic level, who has the right to push another species off the brink ?

It should be our responsiblity to come out and support the tiger. What we need is awareness first. And it is upto all of us to understand the magnitude of the problem, put down our caffe lattes and move on. But I tire of asking questions and getting no answers. Will I really make a difference or are we too late in staving off the revenge of Durga ?

PS: If you would like to read William Blake's wonderful poem " The Tiger", here it is :

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